After an all-time high number of citizen initiatives were filed with the Secretary of State to gain access to the 2020 ballot, the coronavirus has stopped most of them, many before they even attempted to gather signatures. Already on the ballot are propositions to negate the Democrats effort to remove Colorado from the Electoral College, the reintroduction of wolves and a citizenship requirement to vote. But dozens more, including limits on abortions, a progressive income tax, a preschool funding tobacco tax, the perennial limits on oil and gas drilling, paid leave and a plethora of mostly liberal initiatives, are in limbo.
Ballot advocates and the signature industry saw 2020 as a perfect year for high voter turnout to back new proposals. The virus is a blow to their ambitions. All states with citizen initiative access to the ballot are dealing with the same issues and, of course, advocates are arguing for online petitioning and extended deadlines. However, Coloradans have not been anxious to crowd the ballot with initiatives. In 2016, Colorado voted by 57 percent to make it more difficult to get to the ballot or pass constitutional initiatives (Proposition 71).
In comparison, California, which requires 623,212 valid signatures, allows a mail-back petitioning, but soliciting them is a huge, expensive process that has not been fully implemented, tested and perfected. Coronavirus has also tied up a host of California proposals that may not make it, such as $5.5 billion for stem cell research, increasing medical negligence damages, and regulations for dialysis clinics.